Mechanical Music Through the Ages

A collection of Mechanical Music and Arcade Machines – highlighting examples of the development in mechanical entertainment over time.

Victor 1050 Autochanger 1927 – (USA)

The  first disc record changer was the famous 1906 Gabel’s Automatic Entertainer. Gabel brought out a home unit in 1917- the Gabelola – that would play 10 records without interruption.

On March 19th, 1927, the Victor Talking Machine Company brought out Victor’s 10-50 acoustic Victrola as the first true mass-produced record changer available to the buying public, with  over 10,000 10-50’s going to buyers eager for uninterrupted musical pleasure.

At a price of $600, one could buy a nice mid-size Chevrolet at that time. The 5 foot x 5 foot cabinet in gorgeous French Renaissance Walnut, was guaranteed to dominate every living room, and blast the windows out with its incredible volume if necessary.

The changer itself is an example of reliable engineering of a simple elegance: all motions are powered by a single sliding rod, that lifts the tonearm, moves it sideways and powers the lift ring. Pot metal was originally used, which deteriorated over time. The gramophone below has been restored with the mechanism remade using brass.

Records are loaded on an overhanging magazine spindle, picked up by the lift ring, and on reject cycle, the lift ring will slide the record into a felt-covered drawer below the motor board. If properly adjusted, this machine works reliably and with no damage to the records. All the surfaces the record slides on are felt covered and on my machine, I have not experienced one single breakage or chip.

The record changer has:

– Capacity for up to twelve 10″ or 12″ records.
– Only one record is on the platter at any time to keep correct tracking angle.
– 10″ or 12″ record size has to be pre-selected, and cannot be played intermixed.
– Changer shuts off automatically after the last record is played.

The Victor Automatic Orthophonic Victrola 10-50 is an acoustic machine building on the orthophonic technology of the famous Credenza. The horn of the machine seems to be the largest that Victor ever built for acoustic home-use machines, 35″ x 17″ horn opening, and a ca. 8 foot long horn folded in itself.